Steamed Mui Choy with Pork Belly (Mei Cai Kou Rou/梅菜扣肉)is a Hakka delight and although quite tedious to prepare the traditional way, it is not difficult. The tedious part comes from prepping the mustard greens (mui choy/mei cai) to thoroughly get rid of fine sand particles. My method of cleaning the mustard greens (blanching in boiling water and soaking) is taught by the market auntie who sold them to me and it is quick & effective.
Another process is to deep-fry the pork and then plunging it in an ice water bath before steaming, but it is well worth the extra step because it results in a better texture. Prepare a bigger pot with the intention of leftovers as this dish keeps well.
There are typically two methods of preparing this dish – simmering or steaming. I did both ways for the sake of experimentation and I preferred the traditional method of steaming because the mustard greens retain their shape and flavour better. This dish is really savoury and goes so well with anything – rice, porridge or steamed buns. The result is well worth all the work, I must say.
There are two types of mustard greens – sweet and salty. You may use either type, or a combination of both. I like to use all salty, or a mixture (300g salty and 100g sweet) to prepare this dish. You can buy it at the wet markets (the stalls selling goods like salted fish, salted vegetables and other dried foodstuff).
Coat pork belly all over its surface with 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce. Let it marinade for at least half hour.
Rinse mustard greens to wash away the sugar/salt (depending on the type you bought). Blanch washed mustard greens in boiling water for a few minutes. Rinse and soak in water for at least another 10 minutes. This process thoroughly get rids of tiny sand particles.
Wring excess water from mustard greens. Slice the leafy portion to 1 cm length and the stem portion to half cm length.
Pat dry the surface of the pork belly with kitchen paper towel. Heat cooking oil in a wok and shallow fry the pork belly on both sides until crisp on the surface. Drain oil and plunge fried pork belly in an ice water bath for 10 minutes. Cut pork belly to bite-sized, 3-layer pork slices and set aside.
Using the remaining oil in the wok, saute garlic cloves, ginger and star anise until fragrant. Add cut mustard greens and stir fry for a few minutes. Then add the (A) and bring to a simmer until left with just a bit of sauce, about 30 minutes. Taste test a piece of mustard green and season to taste.
Transfer the contents of the wok to a steaming bowl by arranging the pork belly slices (skin-side down) at the bottom of the bowl, followed by the stir-fried mustard greens on top. Cover the bowl with lid or aluminium foil. Steam for about 2 hours over high heat.
Wait for the steaming bowl to cool before proceeding. Tilt the bowl to pour the sauce to another bowl, then carefully invert the steaming bowl onto a serving plate. Drizzle the steaming sauce over. Serve with rice, porridge or steamed buns.
Noob Cook Tips
If you prefer a thicker sauce, thicken the steaming sauce with cornstarch solution in a saucepan before drizzling it over the final dish.
This dish keeps well in the fridge, so you may prepare more with the intention of reheating the leftovers.
The method of deep-frying the pork and then plunging in ice bath results in better texture and bite.
You can also use the simmering method – simmer the mustard greens together with sliced pork belly for at least 1 hour until the pork is tender. Adjust water and seasonings accordingly.